James H. Farnum

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James H. Farnum, PGM,
James H. Farnum, PGM (From the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library Collection)

Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1885

James H. Farnum was born in Cayuga County, New York on January 6, 1844. He was educated in the public schools of Oswego and Newark, and at the Albion Academy. At age seventeen, he left school and home to enter the army. He enlisted at Utica, New York, in September 1861 in Battery A. First New York Light Artillery, which soon became a part of the Army of the Potomac.

In June 1862 he was transferred to the Eighth Independent New York Battery, in which he served until the close of the way in July 1865. In the spring of 1866 he moved to Cass County, Michigan, and engaged in farming, and taught in school during the winters. In 1872, he tired of farming and went to Utah Territory, and was employed as a bookkeeper for a mercantile company for two years.

In the fall of 1873 he returned to Cass County, Michigan and for a number of years was engaged in the Mercantile Business in Cassopolis. This did not agree with his health, and in 1886 he became a traveling salesman for a wholesale clothing firm.

He was raised as a Master Mason, in Jordan Lodge, No. 386, in Jordan, New York, on March 30, 1866. He moved the same year to Cass County, Michigan. He affiliated with Backus Lodge, No. 55, in Cassopolis, on November 16, 1866. He became an active member. During his short residence in Utah, he assisted in organizing Corrinne Lodge, and was its first Junior Warden. He was the Master of Backus Lodge, No. 55, in Cassopolis for seven years. His first position in the Grand Lodge was that of District Deputy Grand Master of the Third Masonic District. This comprised the Counties of Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph, in 1878-’79. He was appointed Senior Grand Deacon in 1880, Senior Grand Warden in 1882-’83, Deputy Grand Master in 1884, and Most Worshipful Grand Master in 1885.

He was made a Royal Arch Mason in Keystone Chapter, No. 36, at Dowagiac, Michigan on March 4, 1868.

In 1871 he assisted in organizing Kingsbury Chapter, No. 78, at Cassopolis, and on March 10th of that year became one of its charter members. He was Principal Sojourner for five years, Captain of the Host for two years, King for two years, and High Priest for six years. He was made a Knight Templar in Niles Commandery, No. 12 in Niles, Michigan, on December 15, 1882.

Brother Farnum was married on October 22, 1873 to Miss Lida J. Salisbury.

He died on January 19, 1917.

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